The Curriculum

The Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program is designed to produce exemplary educational leaders for schools, community colleges, and related areas within education. Graduates of this program will be prepared to lead in educational environments that promote learning, equity, and achievement for all students. Armed with real-world, problem-based learning, program graduates will be ready to manage the complexities of educational organizations, affect school change processes, and shape the educational policies that bear on the practice of education in the public setting.

Three major core curricular elements form the basis of the California State University, Sacramento Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy program: Leadership, Research Methods, and Field-based Study. In addition, three key curricular themes will be emphasized and provide the focus for all coursework in the program. These themes are:

  1. Transformational Leadership
  2. Critical Policy Analysis and Action
  3. Informed Decision-Making. Each theme is described briefly below

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders understand, implement, and evaluate strategic equitable leadership practices based on various theories, models, and approaches for achieving organizational transformation, especially in educational settings. Students will become skilled facilitators of the organizational transformation process by initiating, implementing, sustaining, and evaluating transformation efforts. Students will build a solid foundation through the integration of theory and practice in order to implement a planned change process in K-12 and community college environments.

Critical Policy Analysis and Action

Students will engage in critical analyses of policy at the local, state, national, and international levels. Specific California and federal policy environment structures and processes will be examined, particularly those impacting education. Students will learn about how public policy is generated, potential consequences, ethical dilemmas, social justice, and equity issues. The program develops in students the skills for informed analysis of educational policy in order to positively influence educational policy in the K-12 or community college setting.

Informed Decision Making

The ability to make effective decisions is vital to the successful performance of visionary transformational leaders. Effective and strategic decision making needs to consider a multitude of constraints and obstacles, raw data, stakeholder perspectives, and potential consequences of decision choices. Students will learn skillful decision making strategies in the context of multiple competing interests, problem situations, change, and influences of power and control.


The Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program offered by the California State University is offered through partnerships through which the California public elementary and secondary schools and community colleges shall participate substantively in program design, candidate recruitment and admissions, teaching, and program assessment and evaluation. This degree enables professionals to earn the degree while working full time.

The California State University, Sacramento doctoral program represents a collaborative effort between two departments, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Public Policy and Administration, to provide an interdisciplinary program of study. It also represents a partnership with area public schools and community colleges to develop a meaningful course of study and graduate experience.

Designed for Working Professionals

The program, while rigorous, is planned to meet the needs of working professionals who are engaged in the profession of education. Accordingly, the program will incorporate a variety of innovative measures to facilitate student access such as encouraging students to use their job-related problems as topics for research assignments. During the three-year program, courses are undertaken year-round.

During the first two years, students typically take classes on Friday evenings and all day Saturday, every other week. During the third year, students work independently on a doctoral dissertation under the guidance of a faculty committee. Students should also expect to do extensive reading and research outside of class meeting times.

The majority of the program classes will be held on the campus of California State University, Sacramento. However, there may be sessions held with partner institutions in public schools and community colleges to host classes as appropriate.